Responding to communication needs in the justice system

International Conference 2015

In June 2015 the Advocacy Training Council (ATC) hosted its first International Conference entitled Addressing Vulnerability in Justice Systems at the Law Society for a 120 delegates.

Speakers consisted of eminent members from this jurisdictions legal and academic circles, our neighbours in Ireland and Scotland, as well as from countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Malta.

The conference began with a sumptuous evening reception in the beautiful surroundings of the Common Room on the Friday and a chance for everyone to meet and network, especially those from further afield. Professor Penny Cooper (Chair of The Advocate’s Gateway) welcomed guests and The Rt Hon. Lady Justice Hallett gave both an inspiring and motivational keynote speech.

The Saturday was an early start and a full day of talks, seminars and more networking opportunities. Mr Justice Nicholas Green (Chairman of the ATC) opened the conference with a thought provoking address which highlighted the need for change in the way we work with vulnerable in justice systems. Professor David Ormerod spoke of the Law Commissions work in the area of effective participation and review of the unfitness to plead provisions. Delegates were treated to a variety of panel discussions on current and pressing issues in family, criminal and civil practice. A DVD presentation was also shown of Trevor Riley QC, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Northern Territory Australia, who spoke of the advances being made in working with indigenous vulnerable people. A presentation by Tim Barraclough focused on the changes in evidence and procedure in Scotland. Other highlights included a presentation on vulnerable people in civil and commercial cases presented by Felicity Gerry QC, and a look at the need for more specialist training in this area by HHJ Peter Rook QC.

For further details on the conference please click here to view the Call for Papers document and programme.

It is clear from the feedback we received that delegates found this an extremely important and worthwhile event.  Many commented on the breadth of topics and speakers, and how important they found the opportunity to discuss the issues surrounding the vulnerable with like minded professionals across a range of disciplines.

We hope to hold another conference in 2017 and details will be made available on TAG.

If you would like to be added to our mail list, or would like any further information regarding this year’s conference please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.





Daniel Sheridan (2015) Advocacy Training Council Conference 2015, Inner Temple Yearbook 2015

Monidipa Fouzder (2015) Courts Set for vulnerable witness reform, The Law Society Gazette

Adele Edwin-Lamerton (2015) The Advocate's Gateway International Conference, The Law Society Junior Lawyers Division 

Leslie Cuthbert (2015) The Advocates Gateway International Conference and Autumn Masterclasses, SAHCA

Michael Jones (2015) A Vital Role to Play, Counsel October 2015


We are very pleased to confirm a post conference publication will be published by Wildy and Sons Ltd. This will be available late 2015 early 2016.

The publication will consist of a number of papers which were presented at the conference.

As follows;

Dr Jacqueline Wheatcroft University of Liverpool Avoiding Miscarriages of Justice

Dr Andreas O’Shea Vitoria International Chambers, Malta  Accused in International Criminal Trials: invulnerable?

Felicity Gerry QC 36 Bedford RowVulnerable witnesses and parties in all Civil Proceedings – dignity, respect and The Advocate’s Gateway Toolkit 17

Dr Sue O’Rourke & Clare Wade Clinical Psychologist and Sign Language Interpreter; Garden Court chambers Making special measures special; reasonable adjustments for deaf witnesses and defendants

Dr Brendan O’Mahony University of Portsmouth How effective are judges and counsel at facilitating communication with vulnerable persons in a criminal trial?

Professor Penny Cooper Chair of The Advocate's Gateway Valuable lessons and poor relations. Comparing the English criminal and family justice systems' approaches to vulnerable and intimidated witnesses.

Charles Geekie QC Garden Court chambers Poor relations? Vulnerable in the family courts

Connor Gillespie Bar Library, Belfast Does the adversarial system operate against the best interests of a vulnerable defendant?

Michelle Mattison University of Chester Putting theory into practice: A comparison of the guidance available to investigative interviewers and advocates when using communication aids in the criminal justicesystem

Jenny Talbot, OBE Prison Reform Trust Vulnerable Voices

For further information please contact




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